Sebastian Vettel on pole for Chinese Grand Prix
Finnish drivers Räikkönen, Bottas place 2nd, 3rd
15 Apr 2018, 01:58
DF-Xinhua Report by Michael Butterworth
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel edged out teammate Kimi Räikkönen to take pole position for Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, as Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton struggled.
In cold and windy conditions, the Silver Arrows appeared to be lacking grip and had no answer to the pace of the Ferraris, with Vettel taking pole with a time of 1:31.095, besting Räikkönen by just 0.087 secs.
Mercedes had to be content with third and fourth on the grid, with Valtteri Bottas ahead of Hamilton, who aborted his final run after a small mistake in the last sector of the track. Both cars were over half a second down on Vettel's pole time.
The two Red Bulls were best of the rest in fifth and sixth. Max Verstappen led the way ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who missed a lot of the early running after suffering a dramatic turbo failure in the morning practice session.
Elsewhere, Renault's Nico Hulkenberg finished seventh, ahead of the Force India of Sergio Perez and Hulkenberg's teammate Carlos Sainz. Haas driver Romain Grosjean rounded out the top 10.
It was not a good session for McLaren. Despite a management reshuffle and an emergency debrief following a lack of pace in Bahrain, both Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne once again failed to progress to the top-10 qualifying shootout, lining up 13th and 14th on the grid.
Ferrari had earlier shown their pace in the morning practice session, where Vettel and Räikkönen had also finished first and second. By contrast, Hamilton was only fifth after an error-strewn session that ended with the Briton a second off Vettel's pace.
Speaking after qualifying, Vettel waxed lyrical about the handling of his car. "It was a crazy session. The car was unbelievable and it just got better. I was very happy with the settings I had from the beginning. I knew I had a little bit more and obviously in the last lap I got it all together. It was a tight session but I think again a great result for the team."
Meanwhile, Valtteri Bottas acknowledged that Mercedes were surprised to be so far behind Ferrari. "We thought coming into today that we would be fighting for pole position but it was definitely out of reach today. I think they have a really strong car. You can see in long corners they make some good gains to us. Hopefully we can make up tomorrow what we lost today."